Thursday, 29 May 2008

Breakfast Bread

Let's just say I have a thing about bread. I see no problem devoting one's day to creating a great loaf of bread - to me this is a perfectly honourable and reasonable use of one's time. On a desert island short list, I would pick bread easily over dessert.

My love of bread is nothing new. As a baby and toddler living in a van with a gaggle of hippies who thought traveling Europe with a small child was a great idea, the bread had to be hidden, lest I gum it down. Needless to say, I was not without ability and agility and could locate said hidden loaves while the grown-ups slept and dispatched them in quick order. I would do it today. Likely with less slobber.

As a depressed teen, I would slip out to the grocer's and buy myself a $0.99 baguette to gnaw on in my angst. Perhaps two.

My love of bread has been inherited by my children. Not least of which is my daughter who, upon surveying the 6 course Indian feast that I laid out for her and her friend said "what, no bread? But the chapatti is the best part!"

Do I need an excuse to bake bread? No, but I'll gladly take one. I have discovered a group of bread fanatics to bake with and for my first submission to BreadBakingDay - Breakfast Breads - I chose a recipe that originated in Saskatchewan, Canada. My native country, if not my province.

I present to you today a recipe for a breakfast bread - buttery on the outside and tender and rich in the middle with a ribbon of fruit to surprise and delight the senses. Wonderful in the morning toasted and spread with butter or creamcheese, it also went nicely that evening with the cream of broccoli soup that I prepared. I must admit, hubby and I polished off one loaf within 12 hours. Well, bread is the staff of life.

Helen’s Special Raisin Bread
From Home Baking
Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

2 cups scalded milk, cooled to lukewarm
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
6 ½ to 8 cups all purpose flour
1 large or extra large egg
1 ½ to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus extra melted butter for brushing
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup moist, dark raisins, soaked. - I used ½ dark raisins and ½ dry wolfberries as I had just found some at the bulk store.

Combine milk and water in a large bowl. Sprinkle on yeast and stir. Add sugar and 2 cups flour and stir until smooth. Let stand several minutes.
Add the egg and butter and stir in, then sprinkle on the salt and stir in. continue to add flour a cup at a time until the dough becomes difficult to stir. Flour a work surface generously and turn out the dough. Knead for about 5 minutes, incorporating more flour as necessary, until the dough is smooth, firm, and elastic.
Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for 3 - 4 hours, until not quite doubled.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and cut it in half. Lightly butter two 8x4 inch bread pans.
Flatten one dough piece in to a rough rectangle about 8 inches by 10 inches. Sprinkle on half the raisins, leaving a 4 inch wide band raisin-free at one short edge. Roll up the dough from the opposite edge, pinch the seam to seal, and place seam side down in one of the prepared pans. Repeat with the other piece of dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, place a rack in the lower third of the oven and place a baking stone on it. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees f.
Just before baking, brush the loaves with a little melted butter and slash twice crosswise. Bake until golden, about 30 minutes. Brush the tops of the loaves with a little butter and lower the heat to 375 degrees; bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from the pans: the loaves should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Place on a rack and let cool at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Thank you Zorra, for founding this great monthly blog event!

Check out the round-up at Baking a Sweet Life for tons of great breakfast bread recipes.